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Although the Bucks struggled to get the same level of production from its frontcourt following the Bogut trade, it allowed several young post players to get valuable playing time that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Bogut’s absence allowed for Drew Gooden’s emergence within the Bucks’ offense.
Gooden enjoyed his best season since signing with Milwaukee, as he averaged 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last year. Bogut’s best attribute as a post player was his ability to pass the basketball and generate open shots for teammates. Without him in the lineup, Gooden enjoyed a career-high 2.6 assists per game in 2011.
He will remain Milwaukee’s top post-scoring threat in 2012, but with Dalembert as the starting center, Gooden will be able to play his natural position at power forward.
Milwaukee’s inexperienced platoon of big men in 2011 played significantly more minutes since the Bucks shipped Bogut off to Golden State. Two such players, Jon Brockman and Jon Leuer have since been traded to the Rockets in the Dalembert deal, but both Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders showed some promise in limited time last season.
Headed into 2012, Udoh and Sanders project as reserves, but both will be better equipped for limited minutes following a season in which they played much more prominent roles.
Unrestricted free agent Ersan Ilyasova, coming off the best season of his career, is expected to receive a larger contract elsewhere. Ilyasova averaged 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in 2011, and his absence will leave the Bucks with a need for a versatile offensive threat.
The slack left by Ilyasova will be need to be picked up by several players next season, one of which being Mike Dunleavy who is coming off a resurgent 2011 campaign.
Dunleavy was a pleasant surprise for Milwaukee last season, averaging 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. His per-game average of 26.3 minutes will likely increase as he enters his 11th season in the league.
Last year’s first round pick Tobias Harris is still just 19 years old, and he will surely see more playing time in 2012 after appearing in just 42 games last year, in which he played just 11.3 minutes per game.
Combined with a couple new acquisitions, the Bucks’ returning players have Milwaukee’s sights set on the playoffs in 2012.